(Every Monday, Rocksauce Studios CEO Q Manning will answer your questions about app design, app development and the mobile industry. Submit your questions here!)
What is a whiteboarding session? What happens during one?
A whiteboarding session rarely includes a white board here at Rocksauce, although it certainly used to! It’s a meeting we have two times a week where we get the team together and the sales people bring in all of the ideas that we’ve gotten from clients and present them to the marketing, design and UI/UX guys, as well as our development engineer and our project manager. We look over these potential projects, discuss any other potential ideas that come to us, talk about if we’ve seen this idea in the store and how much competition is out there, whether the client’s approach is the best approach and whether there’s a clever way to help them succeed in the market.
Rocksauce isn’t a company that always says yes to every idea…it’s the company that helps you figure out how to be successful with your idea. The whiteboarding session is that initial stage. “You want to make a check-in app? Okay, but what’s your specific hook to your check-in app? What makes it different? How are you going to compete with the 80 people currently on the market?” The job of a whiteboarding session is to examine your idea and make sure that we can do something that is unique and original and can help you make your money back after your investment.
What do you do when a member of your team delivers their work and it’s not where it needs to be? How do you work with your guys to keep everything up to snuff?
If a designer brings me something and I don’t think it’s all the way there, the first thing I’ll say to them is go back and let it bake a little longer. What that means for us is that it’s not quite done and they haven’t put quite enough work into it. Usually, it will mean that there’s only been a few passes on textures or effects. They haven’t thought deep enough. We like all of our stuff here to be really polished. Everything has a texture to it. Maybe it has a gradient or embossing effect. It’s about making sure that every graphic is as beautiful as it can be in every step of the process. No button and no font treatment can be ignored. We have to think about every element.
Normally, we never get to the point where a designer will be completely off the mark. One of the things we do in our design process is create a series of mood boards. Early on, we have a meeting to decide the visual direction of the app and the designer will scour the web for a couple of hours, looking for a visual reference for what they want it to look like. They find a background that gives them inspiration, find a font that looks like what they’re going for, colors they like and they present it all to me. That’s a mood board. If I think it’s good, I let them know and they pass it off to the client for their approval. This keeps everyone on the same page at all times! This way, when the designer starts their work, they’re pulling from that client (and me) approved mood board. We don’t copy anything directly, but it gives our team a feeling and an aesthetic goal. If you want to build an app with a softer look, the mood board has to fit that. You wouldn’t want a bunch of steel and iron textures with that idea! If a designer ever has trouble, all we have to do is go back to the mood board and talk about those original ideas. We pride ourselves on our quality work (our “half spot” is better than completed work from most companies) and these mood boards are a key component in designing the best app possible.
The world must know! What is the key to a perfect cup of coffee?
The key to a perfect cup of coffee is a good set of beans. Here at Rocksauce, we use Ruta Maya, a regional company. They roast their own beans and they’re extremely dark. I like a nice dark bean, myself. The beans need to be nice and greasy. The big trick is to grind the beans as finely as possible, even if you’re using an automatic grinder. This way, you’ll be sucking every delicious drop of coffee out of each bean so it’s as strong as it can be. For me, a cup of coffee needs to be bold. We don’t want weak coffee. We’re not making tea here! We like our coffee like we like our design work: it needs be bold, it needs to be powerful and it needs to grab your attention!